200_IMG_0262What happens when a important bit of a stone-restoration project misses the boat in Italy? When it involves an important part of the St. Joseph Cathedral restoration, says Joe Becker, it gets a plane ride to Sioux Falls, S.D. – even if it’s a massive column.

Editor's note: Joe Becker continues his report on the natural-stone segment of the St. Joseph Cathedral restoration in Sioux Falls, S.D.

“If the British march by land or sea from the town to-night, hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch ....”

200_IMAG0205Click on photo to enlargeHenry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride”. It depicts the anxious wait and then announcement that the British soldiers were coming.

Fast forward a couple hundred years, and there are anxious moments in Sioux Falls. The wait is not for columns of bayonet-carrying Redcoats, but for four large columns of green marble. 

Maybe I should do a quick summary of events before the story continues. In a nutshell, here are the milestones:

January 2010: Rosso Barocco columns awarded.
April 2010: Rosso Barroco quarry, located in Turkey, opened for the season and quarry operations started.
May 2010: Shop drawings approved and sent to Italy.
June 2010: Encouraging news from quarry with location of a 17’ block. Bad news followed that the block contained cracks and couldn’t be used. Quarrying continues.
August 2010: No news from the quarry – only 2½ months left in the season because of winter conditions.200_IMG_2576Click on photo to enlarge
September 2010: Agostino Pocai and I fly (on our dime) to Antalya, Turkey, to find out what is reality. Our window for getting columns to the church by February 2011 iss closing fast.
October 2010: With no chance of obtaining a Rosso Barroco block, we announce that the Bishop must select another marble. Truly devastating news to the entire construction team.
November 2010: Verde St Denis from northern Italy selected.
March 21, 2011: Columns arrive at jobsite – but in an unusual way.

Longfellow’s poem continues “... One if by land and two if by sea and I on the opposite shore will be .....”  Our columns did follow Longfellow’s words, but instead came “one by air and three by sea.”